Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Gert Vlok Nel wrote the poem "River" as if a letter to a lover at a very long distance; in that wise, the major theme of the poem is love. The first five lines (first stanza) of the poem portrayed the poet comparing the means of getting to his lover to that of river navigating before getting to the sea:
"River, o river you’re the deepest word that I know
I could navigate by you to the sea and to her in the
hope that I would win her heart,
but desert is the word by which
I must journey to win her heart"
Gert Vlok Nel journeyed through Pretoria to end his journey at Beaufort West after he had claimed in the second stanza of the poem that his love awaited him somewhere in Cape. Until the end part of the poem, it became clear that the distant lover of the poet was dead not at all on earth:
"Last night I slept in Beaufort West
in the Wagon Wheel
Motel wanted to call you
say that I am dreamless
seamless world-weary and had had enough and
want to come and sleep in your arms forever
like a boat on the bed of the sea"

The refrain that ended the poem seemed the poet had a weeping tone and made him look as if with a mourning heart:
"Last night I slept in Beaufort West
Last night I slept in Beaufort West
Last night I slept in Beaufort West"
Let's look at how the poem rolled its reed. He was at a point in Pretoria with a woman different from his lover so he decided to meet his true lover who was somewhere in Cape.
In his quest, he got to Bloemfontein with happiness and optimism and even mentioned that his journey was no longer far (Bloemfontein is a major city and the judicial capital of South Africa):
"Last night I slept in Bloemfontein
was happy I had got so far in one day was
happy there were still
flowers for hikers to pick (wanted to call you) was
happy love will not pass
me by was happy it’s only another 1000 km here from the Cape"
According to the fourth stanza, the poet then described his experience of spending night in Colesberg. His notion was intense, since the garage was entirely a prostitution's den and he symbolised the changes in the country with the sites of those crying and those laughing:
"Last night I slept in Colesberg
across from the garage where the prostitutes turned
what the uncles brought around
& hiking back to the Cape in the long
night I saw some
crying I saw others singing maybe about that
mixed feeling that turning around brings"
The setting of the poem can be considered South Africa because of the lists of places the poem speaker passed many of his nights Pretoria, Cape, Bloemfontein, Colesberg, Beaufort West, etc. naijapoets.com assumes that Gert Vlok Nel didn't specify any strick rhyme or rhythm in the poem, it just flowed in it narrative form. Besides the use of refrain, the first stanza has metaphor, "wrong city with the wrong woman" is an alliteration found in the second line of the second stanza, "like a boat on the bed of the sea" is a simile found in the sixth line of the fifth stanza.


Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry
(the Leo with wings flying)


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